Are there any rules about the language used here? Is it ok to ask in Esperanto or is it supposed to be English only?
I'd suggest allowing the use of both Esperanto and English on this site. We hope this site will be used by many people who don't speak English fluently. After all, isn't that sort of the point of Esperanto? So allowing questions and answers in Esperanto will help this site grow.
Specifically, asking a question in either language is fine. If you can, consider including a translation into the other language.
If a question is asked in English, when you answer it, try to include an English version of your answer (if you want to include Esperanto as well, that's fine).
If a question is asked in Esperanto, try to include an Esperanto version of your answer (if you want to include English as well, that's fine).
I think we should fully accept questions in English and/or Esperanto and have a friendly, tolerant and constructive attitude towards those who can't speak either.
- English: This is the de facto lingua franca of the internet. It is the working language of Stack Exchange. It will be understood at least passively by a huge number of native and non-native speakers who are still struggling with Esperanto. (Added: Currently the vast majority of questions are in English. Not allowing questions in English might cause some askers to use Esperanto, but I suspect we would also lose a lot of traffic - reducing the chance for the site to ever leave beta.)
- Esperanto: For an Esperanto-focused site, this is basically a no-brainer for many reasons.
- Reasons for accepting every other language: Speakers of rare languages may have specific problems learning Esperanto and may not be able to express them adequately in English or Esperanto. This is valuable information, and it's also important to extend the overall friendliness and openness of the Esperanto community to this case.
- Reasons for restricting use of other languages: If a question is written only in a language other than English or Esperanto, the number of people who can contribute or make use of the information will be seriously reduced. (We also shouldn't conserve chain letters in Guuguu-Yimithirr or fragments of the Voynich manuscript until someone can identify them.)
- (Added later) Experience from German language SE: Over there, both English and German are accepted. It is rare that someone asks in another language, but if/when this happens, disruption through attempts to prevent it appears to be more of a problem than the actual questions. (In practice, what is surprisingly contentious is questions about the very closely related Yiddish language, for which no equivalent site will exist in the foreseeable future. These questions generate a lot of interest and get high quality answers, but some want to forbid them. Some even want to forbid the discussion of German dialects. I never understood why, as this only alienates people who will then not have any SE site for their questions. The equivalent problem here probably needs to be discussed, but not under this question.)
Based on these considerations, I would suggest something like this:
- Questions in English are welcome. It's OK if someone wants to add a (good!) translation into Esperanto, but normally there is no need for anyone to do this.
- Questions in Esperanto are welcome. It's OK if someone wants to add a (good!) translation into English, but normally there is no need for anyone to do this.
- Those who have trouble expressing a question in English or Esperanto may use any other language instead. The choice of language by itself is then only a reason to remove such a question if it turns out that nobody can answer it in the same language or translate it into English or Esperanto. Those who are able to do so are encouraged to translate such a question to English and/or Esperanto.
- Questions in English should be answered in English or in Esperanto. If in doubt, in the case of typical beginners' questions, users are encouraged to answer in English or very simple Esperanto.
- Questions in Esperanto should be answered in Esperanto or in English. If in doubt, users are encouraged to answer in Esperanto.
- Questions in another language should be answered Esperanto, English or the other language.
- When a question is asked again, but in a different language, this may be a good occasion to translate the original question and its best answer(s) into English and/or Esperanto. But only if someone can be bothered.
- It is not acceptable to be rude to someone for using the 'wrong' language.
- Translations are added to the original texts. It's OK to change the title to English or Esperanto and to make a question that is in neither language less prominent than its translation. But normally the question should be also preserved in its original language.
- All rules are supposed to make sense. If for some reason they are counterproductive in a special case, they can always be broken.
- This is not an actual rule. I just felt that having precisely 10 items would make this look like a carefully thought-through, complete and formal proposal ready for voting, which it isn't.
My addition to the many fine answers to this question is that we should also relax a little about whether answers are in Esperanto or English. I'll post something like the following and get a comment that I've written my answer in the wrong language:
Inteligenta persono lernas Esperanton facile kaj rapide.
In a bilingual site where the same people are asking and answering questions in both Esperanto and English, there is no value to translating an answer like that. Sometimes, I just don't notice what language a question is in. I read it and answer it. In a bilingual site, there needs to be some tolerance of the "wrong" language and on mixed language answers.
Furthermore, rather than commenting that the answer is in the wrong language, it would be more constructive to edit the answer, draw a line at the bottom, then provide a translation underneath if you really feel one is necessary.
I would say it should be allowed to ask and answer a question in any language, assuming that all answers are in the language of the question. Esperanto is an international language and people of all kinds of backgrounds are learning it and have questions that can be asked here. Why limit this site to only English learners of Esperanto? It's not like we can have sub-sub-stackexchange site, like for example
russian.esperanto.stackexchange.com. If only English is allowed, then this would be unfair, at least in my opinion.